News for the East Bay's diverse, working-class majority.
Brought to you by the Democratic Socialists of America, East Bay chapter.
April 24, 2020
By Craig Johnson
“Que queremos?” “Protección!”
(“What do we want? Protection! When do we want it? Now!”)
On April 18, five workers at an East Oakland McDonald’s went out on strike, demanding hazard pay and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak. A few days later, on April 21, the strikers took to their cars and blocked the location’s drive-thru, joined by supporters from the East Bay chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Over a dozen vehicles sported signs supporting the workers and their demands, and protesters spent the morning shouting slogans while passing vehicles honked in solidarity.
One striking worker, Ana, said that she had worked at the 6300 East 14th St location throughout the pandemic. She said her manager had required employees to wear protective gear, but forced the workers to pay for it with their own money. Ana and a co-worker, in the car with her, wore medical face masks and gloves to the protest. Conditions at the location had worsened to the point that she and her fellow workers worried for their safety and that of their families.
One of the last straws which pushed workers to strike was a worker’s family member receiving a Covid-19 diagnosis. “We told the store manager about the diagnosis,” Ana said, “and asked them what we should do, what they were going to do about it. Her family is sick. But they do nothing, they give us nothing.” She and her fellow workers are striking out of concern for themselves, their families, and their customers. Like workers around the country, they are demanding only the protection they need to keep themselves and those they interact with safe.
This pandemic is throwing social inequalities into sharp relief, as bosses endanger workers’ lives for the sake of profit. While we can expect more abuse and exploitation from business owners in the coming weeks and months, we will also hopefully see more workers fighting back as they are asked to choose between their jobs and their lives.